Nov/Dec 2018

Welcome to issue #128 of Tape Op.


A songwriter recently asked me to advise him on what type of recording equipment he should buy. He was looking for "a decent interface and a program… that won't make my demos sound like shit, as well as give an engineer a good idea of what I want to do." My advice? Any engineer or producer worth a damn can hear past any recording deficiencies. As a producer, I'm always happier to hear the most stripped-down version of a song that is possible. The further the song gets fleshed out, the more it becomes arranged and produced. While these can sometimes be concrete ideas that help form the trajectory of a song, these decisions can also force the song into a corner. (Too much pre-production can sometimes be a bad thing, though not always!) But focusing on the recording equipment can also be another distraction, when songwriters could be working on their art instead. If you're a writer, make sure the balance is right for you, and make sure you are focusing on your creativity and expression.

Mr. Emerick
Mr. Emerick backstage at Austin City Limits in 2007 for Tape Op #57 interview photoshoot. John Baccigaluppi

PS: We'd like to note that legendary engineer/producer Geoff Emerick passed away in October this year.
I was lucky enough to meet and hang out with Geoff many times over the years, and it was a pleasure to get to know him. He worked on records that broke boundaries and inspired millions. A true creative recordist if there ever was one.

PPS: Our interview with Tony Bongiovi last issue (Tape Op #127) stirred up some thoughts and questions. Read more here.

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →

Enrique Tena Padilla

by John Dwyer

I met Enrique Tena Padilla when he, along with Eric Bauer, engineered, produced, and mixed the last two Oh Sees records (Orc and Smote Reverser) at Sonic Ranch [Tape Op #94], outside of El Paso,...


Columns See more →

End Rant

Tough Love

by Larry Crane

Is there a fine line between naive encouragement and pessimistic, dour warnings of possible failure? (i.e. "Just do it! DIY!" vs. "Give up. It's impossible.") Over twenty years ago I was making plans...

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking w/ Andy

by Andy Hong

For almost two decades now, a crucial component of my cross-platform file-sharing and backup strategies in my home and personal studio has been Network Attached Storage (NAS). My first NAS appliance...


Gear Reviews See more →

Emperor 500 Series Limiter

by Looptrotter  |  reviewed by Scott Evans

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Copenhagen to record an LP for the awesome band Town Portal. It was easily the best audio experience of my life, and, as a bonus, our basic tracks...

Arcade Loop Synthesizer Plug-In

by Output  |  reviewed by Will Severin

Arcade is a new cloud-based software instrument from Output that offers an ever-expanding subscription-based loop synthesizer, while also allowing you to use your own loops. The plug-in can be used...

510 Transwarmer

by Kludge Audio  |  reviewed by Justin Mantooth

Digital processing has come a long way. Within the modern DAW there are a plethora of tools that replicate our favorite real world classic gear, yet many engineers still reach for actual analog...

Hum Debugger / Hum Eliminator Pedal

by Electro-Harmonix  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

You all know the scenario. You're in the studio, the guitarist is getting sounds, and even though they may have a great tone, as a recording engineer all you hear is the obnoxious buzzing hum from...

Special Edition 2x6 I/O Module

by Apogee Digital  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

The new Special Edition 2×6 I/O Module for Symphony I/O Mk II offers the highest quality AD/DA in the Symphony line. The module can be added to existing Symphony Mk II audio interfaces [Tape Op...

Temblor T10 Subwoofer

by PreSonus  |  reviewed by Brandon Miller

I've run expensive professional studios, visited many friends' small home project studios, and at home I have what you might loosely call a studio. I've heard incredible music produced in home...

12-251 Mic Kit & VPS1 Power Supply Kit

by Micparts  |  reviewed by Don Gunn

Micparts is a DIY microphone mod/build company started by Matthew McGlynn, of the wonderful microphone resource website and Roswell Pro Audio. Matt started Micparts a few years ago...

500DT Dual Topology Preamp

by LaChapell Audio  |  reviewed by Dave Hidek

LaChapell's boutique tube preamps have earned a reputation for being some of the best around, so when they announced their ultra-affordable 500DT preamp earlier this year, my interest was piqued. The...

17455 Mini Drop Boom

by Ultimate Support  |  reviewed by Scott Evans

Andy reviewed the Ultimate MC-125, a tall boom stand, in Tape Op #91. He was right - they're great stands. Sharkbite Studios in Oakland has six or eight different big mic stands, and the only one...

Seventeen Compressor

by Black Lion Audio  |  reviewed by Kevin Friedrichsen

What!? Another Universal Audio 1176 clone? Well, not exactly. Black Lion Audio has been modifying entry-level gear [Tape Op #48], into top-notch studio grade equipment, while building outboard gear -...

Room Kit Package #2

by GIK Acoustics  |  reviewed by Gus Berry

After two grueling months of learning how to pour concrete, run electrical wire, frame walls, and hang sheetrock, I have just finished transforming my detached garage into a mixing suite. The end...

T5V & T7V Monitors

by ADAM Audio  |  reviewed by Geoff Stanfield

Some of the best money spent on your studio is in your playback. Invest some of your hard-earned cash on a good monitoring setup, and your mixes and production choices will improve dramatically. ADAM...

Synchronize! Pro X Software

by Qdea  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

Years ago I was wandering around London with several recording engineer/journalist types, when I made an offhand complaint about the interminable wait I was going through during hard drive backups at...

OX Amp Top Box

by Universal Audio  |  reviewed by Kevin Friedrichsen

My experience with Universal Audio's Ox Amp Top Box definitely cleared up any misconceptions or doubts I'd had about this device. More than just a reactive load box, power attenuator, and guitar...

Ocean Way Studios Plug-In

by Universal Audio  |  reviewed by Don Gunn

Universal Audio's Ocean Way Studios for their UAD platform is a room emulation; this is the most basic fact when trying to describe the plug-in. But this simple description does a huge disservice to...


Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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